Drachen's New Building: Modest and Efficient

Ben Ruhe
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Open now for almost two years, the Drachen Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle’s charming Queen Anne community of small speciality shops and comfortable houses has fitted right into the neighborhood. It combines a low key presence there with a notable efficiency of operation.

That was the intention of architect Ibsen Nelsen, chosen specifically by Scott Skinner and Ali Fujino, president and administrator, respectively, of Drachen. Nelsen has a lifetime reputation of maintaining Seattle as a livable city. The city is now in fact considered to be one of America’s favored places to live, and this despite a decidedly weepy coastal climate. As sculptor Isamu Noguchi commented of Nelsen, “His concern is for human beings...the importance of architecture as environment. ”

On tree-lined Queen Anne Avenue North, lined by mostly one- and two-story buildings, Nelsen’s threestory structure blends in easily because its façade is broken up instead of being massively flat and he was careful to use unobtrusive building materials—— green tile, glass brick and glass.